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Seattle’s International Working Women’s Day for Palestine and Beyond

March 12, 2024

March 8, 2024, marked another International Women’s Day yet there many found it difficult to celebrate when we are witnessing ongoing oppression and genocides impacting women around the world. Yet, women continue to be at the forefront of community organizing and resistance everywhere. In Seattle, the International Working Women’s Day Coalition organized a rally and night march. Their unifying call was to support the ongoing resistance in Palestine, and to align with working class women, trans, non-binary, queer individuals, and all oppressed people around the globe. 

Friday’s speakers included representation from: Rosalie Fish, a University of Washington track champion from the Cowlitz Tribe and leader in Indigenous Nations for Palestine; Kayla Harstad, who is Turtle Mountain Chippewa and White Bear First Nations and also a representative of Indigenous Nations for Palestine; Zeinab from Feminists for Jina; Katie Comfort, the U.S. Coordinator of International Women’s Alliance; Hannah Thompson-Garner of Northwest Animal Rights Network; Jackie Vaughn, the Executive Director of Surge Reproductive Justice; Eman from Falastiniyat; Heat of the Seattle chapter of Resist US-Led War; Christina López pf Radical Women; Malali of Afghanistan Women’s Political Participation Network; Génesis from Capybara Colectiva; Adriana from Sin Fronteras/International Migrants Alliance.

In preparation for this event, I had the pleasure of designing art for the social media posts and banner, (and a poster design for Feminists for Jina Seattle) with Parmida Ziaei of Feminists for Jina Seattle. I drew up the various figures represented in the image, and she incorporated her graphic design skills for all of the text and finishing touches. Parmida is a Scenic Designer, Performer and Choreographer. You can see and support more of Parmida’s work on Instagram at @parmidaziaei.

Feminists for Jina came about as a network of Iranian Feminists all over the United States and Europe who self-organized after the tragic murder of the Kurdish woman Jîna Emînî (Mahsa Amini), a Kurdish woman, by Iran’s “morality police”. Jîna’s death after her arrest and beating for the claim of her “improper” hijab wearing was a catalyst in the Women, Life, Freedom movement and ongoing revolution in Iran. ژن، ژیان، ئازادی, (woman, life, freedom,) derives from the popular Kurdish slogan Jin, Jiyan, Azadî used to promote Kurdish independence. 

After October 7th, many influential diasporic Iranians were either spewing Zionist lies or completely silent about the bombardments in Palestine. After just seeing such energy around the Women, Life, Freedom movement it was truly disheartening to see such hateful propaganda from the very mouths of those seeking bodily autonomy and freedom in Iran. There continues to be a tense political division between Iranians in the diaspora with some groups are actually actively fundraising for Israel. 

In mid-October, I was asked by the incredible educator, Iranian poet, and friend, Tala Khanmalek if there were any graphics circulating around explicitly for Iranians in diaspora in solidarity for Palestine. She found an example of a 1977 Iranian Student Association and Organization of Arab Student poster in solidarity with Palestinian and Lebanese struggles, and I created a series of graphics that are free to download for noncommercial use in the Justseeds graphics page in the Palestine will be free! And to our surprise those graphics were widely circulated and connected me to many more radical, queer, abolitionist Iranians in the diaspora from as far as South Korea, Vancouver B.C, to Mexico City.

In a similar sentiment, though I am just meeting some of the Feminist for Jina members for the first time in person, I have been so grateful to have been welcomed into their organizing community regardless of being an American born, Chinese-Iranian with my minimal Farsi speaking, reading and writing abilities. (I am feeling much more of the urgency to keep practicing Farsi now.) 

With permission granted, here is the Feminist for Jina statement written by Feminist for Jina Seattle members Darya and Zeinab (read by Zeinab last Friday at the rally): 

We, feminists for Jina, are a group of intersectional and transnational feminists and queer individuals in diaspora and exile, who came together in the wake of the Jin Jiyan Azadi uprising in Iran. 

As immigrants and refugees, we recognize and acknowledge our presence on the colonized lands traditionally inhabited by the Coast Salish peoples. In solidarity, we commit to supporting their rights to self-determination and pledge to contribute actively to the efforts aimed at restoring their lands.

As Iranian feminists, we stand here in defense of Woman, Life, and Freedom. We understand that the struggle for women’s liberation is bound together with struggles against racism, state violence, war, occupation, imperialism and colonization; with the liberation of poor and working-class people; with resistance against the capitalist economy that exploits people, land, life, and the planet itself; and with the fight against the violence that affects our queer communities. We have learned the principles of resistance and solidarity in the face of oppressive regimes from the relentless protesters and freedom fighters in Palestine under Israeli occupation, our‌ Kurdish comrades in Rojava, and our sisters in Afghanistan under Taliban governance. We know that revolutions and movements are interconnected; they influence and empower one another.  The Jin Jiyan Azadi uprising is indebted to years of liberation struggles before it and continues to be nourished by the ongoing feminist movements worldwide. 

We stand in solidarity with our Palestinian siblings in Gaza and those among our community who are directly and indirectly affected by the current war and genocide by the Israeli settler-colonial regime. Passive observation of the horrors of bombings, genocide, and prolonged apartheid is not our way. We must rise and firmly proclaim that Palestinian Liberation is a Feminist Imperative. Solidarity with Palestine and the fight for Palestinian liberation are fundamental to any international solidarity. And although that solidarity has never been easy in the Global South, it has never been more critical as it is today.

History has shown that oppressed populations will undeniably rise for their liberation. We believe that liberation from capitalist exploitation, colonization, patriarchy, homophobia and racism will not be possible without forming united fronts. To this end, we will actively work toward building transnational solidarity and, extend our helping hand to the feminists of the world, especially feminists of the Global South. And we ask for people all around the world to join us in our call for freedom, because our struggles for freedom are interconnected and that no one will be free until we are all free.  

Long live international solidarity 

From Kurdistan to Palestine, Jin Jiyan Azadi

From The River To The Sea, Palestine Will Be Free.

Last Friday’s rally and march would not have been possible without a diverse coalition. The International Working Women’s Day Coalition members include (with their Instagram handles: Falastiniyat (a grassroots collective of diasporic Palestinian feminists in Seattle living and organizing at the intersection of gender justice and anti-colonialism @falastiniyat); Feminists for Jina Seattle (intersectional and transnational feminists from Iran in diaspora and exile, in solidarity with the revolutionary people around the world @feminists4jina.sea); Friends on Bikes (a social cycling crew for BIPOC who are women, trans and/or non-binary in PDX, Toronto @bikepoc Seattle @fob_sea and @friends.on.bikes); Gabriela Seattle (a National Democratic, anti-imperialist organization of militant Filipino women fighting for the genuine liberation of the Philippines @gabrielaseattle); International Women’s Alliance (or IWA, a grassroots based alliance of women’s organizations, networks and individuals that aims to advance the global anti-imperialist women’s movement @internationalwomensalliance); Seattle Green Wave (a student led organization that works to destigmatize abortion and provide education on reproductive justice @seattlegreenwave); Half the Sky Pacific Northwest (a proletarian feminist organization committed to women’s emancipation and dismantling imperialism, capitalism, and sexual commodification @halftheskypnw); ILPS Seattle-Tacoma (building a people’s anti-imperialist united front for genuine liberation from capitalism and all reaction @ilps.seattle.tacoma); NW Animal Rights Network (NARN advocates for the rights of all sentient beings – the right to choose and be free from oppression @narnnw); Puget Sound Mobilization for Reproductive Justice @pugetsoundmobe; Radical Women – Seattle branch (a multi-racial group of all ages united to change the world @radicalwomenseattle); Resist US-Led War Seattle @resist.seattle; South Asians Resisting Imperialism (SARI is a militant org of South Asians dedicated to organizing against various forms of imperialism and its plight on workers across the globe @southasiansresist); Surge Reproductive Justice (mobilizes communities to build a world where all people can make powerful choices for their bodies, families and communities @surge4rj); and Afghanistan Women’s Political Participation Network. Follow them and support their organizing efforts! 

Total liberation for oppressive systems is not possible without each other. We can all do a little bit to contribute towards collective liberation. Keep organizing. Keep creating. Keep boycotting. Keep speaking truth to power. Keep resisting. We need you now more than ever. 

I will leave you with some chants you can utilize next time you take to the streets: 

Mujeres unidas, jamás será vencida! (Women united will never be defeated – in Spanish)

Money for childcare and education/Not for war and occupation

Hey hey, ho ho/Patriarchy’s got to go!

From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free! 

From the sea to the river, Palestine will live forever!

Resistance is justified/When people are occupied!

Biden Biden you can’t hide/We charge you with genocide!

Biden Biden you will learn/By the millions we’ll return!

Intifada! Intifada! Long live the intifada! 

Min al mayya lil mayya/Falasteen Arabiyya (From the river to the sea, Palestine is Arab – in phonetic Arabic)

Bil ruh bil dam nafdeek ya Falasteen (With our souls, with our blood, all for you, Palestine – in phonetic Arabic)

From Palestine to Mexico!/All these walls have got to go!

Abante babae! (call)/Palaban militante! (Women advance! Fight militantly! – response in Tagalog)

Makibaka! (call)/Huwag Matakot! (Dare to struggle! Don’t be afraid! – (response in Tagalog)

Woman, Life, Freedom/Jin, Jian, Azadi

There is only one solution/INTIFADA! REVOLUTION!

(Photos and written by Saiyare Refaei. Any errors are their own.) 

Anti-warCulture & MediaFeminisms & GenderGlobal SolidaritySocial Movements

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